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Wind Drift & Effective Range

Today’s turkey loads are super deadly! I’ve personally witnessed kills at jaw dropping distances. It seems that 50 yards is no big deal with TSS loads from companies like Federal Premium. However, just because your turkey load patterns densely enough to cleanly take gobblers at 50,60 or even 70 yards doesn’t mean it’s prudent to take those shots, especially in the West.

If there’s one thing the West is known for over any other it’s wind. In fact, here in Wyoming wind is such a constant that when we get a rare day that it’s not blowing something seems amiss. Legend has it that if the wind were to stop blowing quickly enough animals and people would tip over… not sure about that one but one thing I can tell you with utter certainty is that wind has an enormous effect on the impact point of your shotgun’s pattern.

A super dense curtain of TSS 9’s won’t do you a lick of good if you cannot put it on target when it matters and even the fastest shotgun loads aren’t quick enough to cheat a stiff crossbreeze. This is a legitimate concern for the western turkey hunter who may need to stretch the distance from time to time with his ammo. The question is just how much wind is too much wind? My experience has taught me that if the wind is between 5-10 mph, I need not worry much about winddrift. However, from 15 mph and up is a different story and I’ll need to keep my shots inside of 30 yards.

In the video above (click here) I was shooting at 50 yards with a consistent 15-20 mph crosswind. As you can see that wind blew most of my pattern to the right by at least a foot. If I’d been actually shooting at a bird I would have missed him or worse, crippled him. In those conditions your shots need to be much closer.

I understand that this isn’t a factor most of the time in turkey hunting but shots on toms happen when they happen and if you wait for the wind to quit blowing on a western turkey hunt you may miss the entire thing. Understanding how wind affects shotgun patterns may just make the difference between coming home empty handed or with a gobbler over your shoulder.


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